Family Center

Family CenterI was headed downtown to enjoy a little lunch, when one small sign on a large, windowless, commercial, brick building, stopped me in my tracks:

Center for Children and Families.

Really?!

In the olden days, that was affectionately known as a Home.

Much more than brick and mortar, love was nurtured there. Around the kitchen table, enjoyment was discovered in meals, games, and conversation. Within the sanctuary of that home, dynamic relationships flourished.

There has been a multi-generational attack on home and family.

Love grows in small homes, not McMansion laboratories.

Lessons spring to life in creative homes, not Propaganda mills.

There is a solution to the dysfunction of a society hammering square pegs into round holes.

How ‘bout we encourage men to engage in their hard-wired desire to provide and women to benefit from that purpose? The expression “barefoot and pregnant” is the jaded attack on a truly liberated woman. From the comfort and warmth of home, she enjoys the freedom to pamper her family.

Pampering is a multifaceted activity. It is not a one-way street of service to others. It is, also, the ability to bask in the purposefully provided time and resources, made available for growth and development, as decided by each woman.

Just let a man come home to the rejuvenation of that loving family environment and his life becomes one of purpose. For the benefit of his family, he is focused on becoming the best dragon-slayer, ever. As a result, the marketplace benefits from his commitment to serve.

By serving all in his sphere of influence, a man with purpose achieves a high level of success in every arena. The rewards of his effort are the resources which will provide opportunity for his family. The circle is complete, as he steps across the threshold into the loving arms anticipating his return home.

That’s the reality.

Home is the center of Children and Families.

Any other building making that claim is, simply, a Counterfeit. Yet, we know the building, itself, did not attach a sign of proclamation; an individual did. With pure intent, that individual, their compatriots, and those many Taxpayers providing the resources, are doing the next best thing.

The best thing for you, me, and all of our families, is for men and women to make every sacrifice to establish real Homes, not centers, for Children and Families.

www.kimfoard.com

King Ranch

King RanchThe question was a simple one: How does a guy get ahead?

It was expressed with emotion and a twinge of frustration.

His eyes and body language were communicating the same, legitimate, curiosity about life. I realized he was serious and I was at a loss for words.

Sitting in front of me was a young man of twenty-three, who had accomplished more in the last two years than many get done in a lifetime.

Far beyond the six-figure salary that society uses to measure success, this young man is responsible for the lives of two dozen men, many who are more than twice his age. He manages millions of dollars of trucks and equipment for the production of billions of dollars of revenue.

Even more important, than the money and resources for which he is held accountable, is the character at his core. And, I guess that’s where words fell short of providing the best answer possible. All I could say in the moment, “Just keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re doing it right.”

We both knew that wasn’t the best response either one of us ever heard and, in time, there was apt to be more to the story. Two weeks later, I had a few more thoughts to share. This is the Rest of the Story.

At age twenty-three, empires are enticing. Courageous young men are determined to build one. And, that’s a good thing for them and all in their sphere of influence. The secret that awaits our crusaders is that the process of building is much more fun than the empire, itself.

The young empire builder and I have common knowledge of individuals sitting in the middle of wealth they did not earn. In this newly tuned conversation, I asked that we mentally separate those men from their inheritances. Then, we examined the individual ability to produce: those who appear to have it made vs. those who actually get-‘er-done.

The list is pretty dang long of the things this young man of twenty-three can do. Because of his humility, he was reluctant to begin taking inventory of his attributes. I gently reminded him, “It’s not bragging, if you can do it.”

Then, we considered what the “Born on third-base ~ Thought they hit a home-run” types can do. That didn’t take long: very, short list.

For a couple years now, I’ve been on this kick: All We Do Begins With A Thought. So, with time to think about his excellent question, I knew a better answer was possible. In fact, the answer was in the question, “How does a guy get ahead?!”


There it was: “A Head”: a noggin which is constantly thinking about splendid dreams. Thoughts without character are as dangerous as ships without rudders. And, that my friends, is when it dawned on me, that as much as my first response was adequate, the best answer recognizes the power of mind and heart.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

We are a combination of our heredity and environment. Undeniably, we slip into this world hard-wired a certain way and, then, parents bend our little twigs.

Communication is what the listener does. Stories provide food for thought.

As we were sitting in Red Robin, munching on our hamburgers and fries, I began a story about Volkswagens, Road-trips, and Ford Pickups that I had been rehearsing in my mind for two weeks.

My dad worked on ranches owned by others. He made $200, per month, cash wages, the equivalent of $2,000 in today’s dollars. Half a century ago, the tradition was for Moms to be homemakers. So, one household income provided funds for the daily necessities and a two-week trip in the fall to exotic destinations.

Well … for a kid who lived twelve miles from the nearest semblance of civilization the other fifty weeks of the year, places like Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe, California, seemed like another world. From the prairies of Montana to the wonders of the Sierra Nevada, and beyond, miles of road stretched before us like ribbons around the best surprise.

The year was 1965 and my parents had just purchased a brand new VW Bug. Not the Super Beetle introduced in the mid-1970s, or the Daisy Mae sedan sporting a flower vase; this was the original bug: Pregnant Roller Skate in the vernacular. I was 10 and my little sister was 3.

Looking around Red Robin for a way to describe the cabin size of that classic automobile, my eyes measured the four-person booth at which we sat. Perfect; the size of the table top was approximately the same amount of space in that VW Bug for two little kids and luggage for a Family of four.

My dad had an eye for packing and a creative mind. By removing the backrest from the rear seat, he could stack suitcases and travel totes to create a wall of luggage and a replacement backrest for his passengers. Our little bottoms, somehow, fit on the eight inches of seat visible and available.

Off we went on our adventure. As an experienced truck driver, Dad knew to adjust his speed according to road conditions and the weight of his cargo. In September, the highways are absolutely perfect. Yet, we were heavy. I remember leaning over to peek between the front seats to see the speedometer needle stuck on 45.

With four on the floor (manual stick-shift transmission) and four in the rear (cylinders in the air-cooled engine) maybe that was top speed. I don’t know. What I do know is that it was an era before audio books and iPods. Lucky for us, though, we had the real deal and an iMom. She read books, lots of books, to us.

The first Interstate Highways were being constructed. They were wonderfully straight and smooth. Cars and trucks passed us as if we were standing still. On the narrow, two-lane, roads, we backed up traffic for miles. Two little kids, with noses pressed to side windows that didn’t open, witnessed many middle-finger salutes.

I closed my eyes and dreamed about fast cars.

Fast-forward to 1971 and we were living in the foreign country of East Texas. I was 16 and running a tractor and brush-cutter for a farmer. He let me use his newer model Ford pickup to haul diesel fuel out to the field for that little John Deere tractor. For some reason, I imagined him giving me that pickup.

I closed my eyes and dreamed about fast pickups.

Then, in the spring of 1972, Dad decided he missed the open country of the North. We were headed home to Montana, kind of. A job was available on a ranch near New Underwood, South Dakota. For the month that we lived there, I rode to school with the kids of the family who owned the ranch. They all drove newer model Ford pickups.

I closed my eyes and dreamed about a fancy Ford pickup of my own, someday.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

From the dream of many years ago to the reality of what I drive, now, a 2011 Ford Lariat King Ranch pickup, I told the story for the merit of the journey, not the destination. The value of the Builder is much more important than any Empire.

Rocky Mountain High

As I looked into the eyes of my lunch partner, he seemed to understand the moral of the story: To get ahead, the mind and heart are our greatest resources. Of all the men I know, if push came to shove, the one I want watching my back is this young man with great questions.

He has dreams of a ranch, cows, and horses.

His grandfather and I came down from setting roof trusses on the day this young dreamer brightened our world. As a Leo, he is a King and I believe a Ranch will be his, someday.

www.kimfoard.com

Sexy Math

Sexy MathAs I was walking down the sidewalk on my way to lunch, two women passed by.

Subject of their conversation:
Men and Money

A man had misbehaved over $45 worth of flowers.

When people say money is not important, they will lie about other things, too.

My grandfather was right when he opined, “Figures can lie and liars can figure.” For the last couple of decades, we’ve experienced that in spades. Speaking of cards and the games people play, let’s take a look at the strategy of playing our hand with grace and poise.

There is another four-letter word on the minds of many — Jobs. The debate rages on and on about who creates them and why they disappear. While fingers are pointed and waved at the other guy, the real solution is left waiting for someone to do the Sexy Math of discovery for the answer — Work.

We don’t need Jobs. We simply need people to take their gifts to the marketplace, in the old-fashioned way of providing value. In the vernacular, that delivery process is known as Work.

And — here begins the Sexy Math of the Entrepreneur.

For the sake of conversation, let’s say you need $40,000 for your Family. 40 hours per week for 50 weeks, with a 2 week Family vacation, is a bank of 2,000 productive hours (40 hours times 50 weeks). You’re a talented individual, quite gifted, and extremely intelligent. There is something you can do that has value to others at a minimum rate of $20 per hour ($40,000 divided by 2,000 hours).

Wait ~ There’s more to know about this — before you launch your first business. There is Overhead, which is the price to be paid for the joy of having your very own Company. Again, for the sake of continuing our conversation, let’s acknowledge this amount to be $60,000 — everything from Advertising, Dues, Fees, Insurance, Rent, and Utilities, to the multitude of other costs necessary for your Company.

You still need $40,000 for your Family and this Sexy Math example still has 2,000 Productive hours in a year. What is your minimum target rate to Customers, now, in consideration of Overhead? Answer: $50. Wow — from $20 to $50 in the blink of an eye.

We better pause for a moment to check for any dishonesty in our figures, or presentation. $40,000 (for Family) plus $60,000 (for Overhead) equals $100,000, which, when divided by 2,000 (Productive hours), equals a minimum target rate per hour of $50.

Taxes ~ As model Citizens, we believe in supporting the greater good of all Society. Through the ages, a tithe — 10% — was acknowledged to be adequate for the support of orphans and widows. For the modern builder of dreams into reality (YOU the Entrepreneur) the rates are quite different.

We have a 15.3% Self-employment Tax, a 15% Federal Income Tax, and at least a 5% State Income Tax. That’s a total Tax Rate north of 30%. (Does anyone else see the irony? God asks for 10% and Government demands a minimum of 30%.)

We still need $40,000 for our Families and $60,000 to keep the lights on. Now, what?! How do we do the Sexy Math to determine our Price in the marketplace? CPAs are professionals — trained to do these calculations in a controlled and regulated environment — yet, I want you to practice this at home.

The $40,000 needed for our Families is, now — at best — a 70% slice of the whole pie, because Government helped themselves to a 30% chunk. $40,000 divided by 70% equals $57,143, which, when added to the $60,000 equals $117,143. This is the amount Customers must pay. For those who think by the hour, $58.57 is the new target rate.

Once more, we will pause to check the veracity of our facts and calculations. $117,143 (Customer Price) minus $60,000 (Overhead) equals $57,143, which when multiplied by 30% equals $17,143 (Taxes). This leaves $40,000 for our Family — and, the minimum Rate per Hour for us to provide Value to our Customers has gone from $20 to near $60.

Is anyone brave enough to do the Math (sexy is long gone at this point) for a total Tax Rate above 30%? Even under current law, the unwary Entrepreneur will pay close to 55%. This is comprised of the 15.3% Self-employment Tax (a combination of Social Security and Medicare tax rates) plus 33% Federal Income Tax, plus 7% State Income Tax.

Solution: $40,000 divided by 45% (Our percentage remaining after Government takes 55%) equals $88,888 (Yes, we’re really behind the 8 Ball, now.) which, when added to the $60,000 of support from Vendors equals $148,888. This is the new price, which Customers must pay, to keep us in business and provide for our Families.

For the benefit of any Doubting Thomas (and, my late Grandfather) here’s the Proof: $148,888 (Customer Price) minus $60,000 (Overhead) equals $88,888, which, when multiplied by 55% equals $48,888 (Taxes). This leaves $40,000 for our Family — and, the minimum Rate per Hour for us to provide Value to our Customers has gone from near $60 to about $75 ($148,888 divided by 2,000 Productive Hours).

Every household budget will be different — $40,000 will be adequate for some, not enough for others. The point, though, is that the needs for every Family are real. You pick the amount for yours. It is factual and a fixed amount in the calculations, above. Productive Units (hours in the examples, above) are also relatively fixed. In a stable economy, the amount of Overhead will be relatively fixed, too.

The variable in all of this are Tax Rates. As they increase, so do the Prices on everything. The result of higher prices is that we need a greater amount of money for our Families — and, Vendors need an increasingly larger amount to stay in business. Ultimately, the Price for everything goes Up.

As Pogo so eloquently expresses, “We have seen the enemy and it is US.” Companies don’t pay Taxes. People do. You and I — as Customers — we all pay more for the “free” lunches so generously offered by our Government to those who refuse to Work.

Now, that we’ve done the Math, we can focus on the Sexy part of this equation:

S ~ Success is the most powerful of aphrodisiacs. Much more than the opportunities that money can buy, it is the sense of accomplishment and the desire to share sustenance with another person.

E ~ Enlightenment, Empowerment, and Encouragement can move us to Excellence in all that we do. In the marketplace of Life, those in pursuit of creativity and innovation will always offer a boutique display.

X ~ Marks the spot of opportunity in every direction. Go ahead — do it — mark an X on the ground . Stand right in the center of the intersecting lines and tell me how far you can see in the direction of each line.

Y ~ We’re at the fork in the road. Indecision is not an option. There is no Maybe, or Try, to it. Left — or, Right — is the choice. The decisions we make today will determine the brightness of our tomorrows.

Now that you’ve done the Sexy Math necessary to provide for your Family, please, share this novel idea with others. A category in desperate need of this information is the one of our Politicians. If true that we get the Government we deserve, then, we need to start asking for real Leadership to inspire every one of us to offer our, very, best to others.

The time has come for all of us to — just — do it!

Sexy Math, that is.

www.kimfoard.com

Rich Conversation

Imago ShuttleThe world is our stage and we travel across it on the two legs of Family and Work. When each leg is strong and healthy, we stride; when one is weak, we gimp; and when both are weak, we crawl.

The secret to healthy and strong legs of Family and Work: Relationships. The magic elixir for dynamic and vibrant relationships: Rich Conversation.

All we do begins with a thought.

Many think a conversation is defined as, “I’ll talk; you listen.” A few know that conversation is an art form of creative reciprocity.

Narcissists in the first group are infatuated with themselves and their Role Power. Expressionists in the second group are focused on service to others through the synergy of Relationship Power.

Those caught up in the stratosphere of their Role Power operate from the premise that they have all the answers. As a result, they feel quite justified in doing things to others. Their approach is the “easy” one of Process, since they do what they want, when they want and how they want. It is measurable, quantifiable and miserable.

The purveyors of Relationship Power practice in the realm of intangibles. Because they believe People are more important than Process, each day is a new adventure of doing for others. Their journey is the “hard” one of accepting the reality that the only constant in life is change. People change. What they want changes; How they want it changes; and, “Why?” is an oft asked question.

Are we courageous enough to say “Yes!” to the discovery of another person? Do we have the strength to leave our comfort zone of the well-known rut and routine to accept the uncertainty of a new adventure? Can we imagine ourselves strapped into the Captain’s chair of a space shuttle with our hand on the throttle calmly announcing, “I’m-A-Go.”

Imago Relationships

Partners cross a bridge into each other’s worlds, motivated not only by the Receiver’s desire to “hear and understand” but also to meet the Sender’s need to be “heard and understood”; with a commitment to slow down our lives and devote specific uninterrupted time to our relationships. Ultimately saying to the other, “I respect your otherness; I want to learn from it. And, I want to share mine with you.”

Discovering two distinct worlds: Whenever two people are involved, there are always two realities. These realities will always be different in small and large ways, no matter what. And, the reality of the other person can be understood, accepted, valued, and even loved; yet, it cannot be made identical to our own.

Clear communication is a window into the world of your partner; truly being heard is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Without change, there is no growth; we are confined to the fate of remaining stuck in our unhappiness.

Change is the catalyst for healing.

Finally, we learn to see our partners for themselves, with their own private world of personal meaning, their own ideas and dreams, and not merely as extensions of ourselves, or as we wish they were. Our approach becomes, “I want to know how you think.”

A conscious relationship is a spiritual path which leads us home again, to joy and aliveness, to the feeling of oneness we started out with. We learn to express love as a behavior daily, in large and small ways: in other words, in stretching to give our partner what they need, we learn to love. The transformation of our relationships may not be accomplished easily or quickly; we are setting off on a lifelong journey.

As we pack our mental suitcase, let’s celebrate in leaving the limitations of “process” behind and lift our eyes to an unlimited future of “people” exploration, which is just waiting to be discovered in a shuttle christened “Rich Conversation“!

www.kimfoard.com

Cutting-edge Generosity

Gift of TimeFifty years ago, on the Main Street of a little town in Lavina, Montana, an older gentleman gave a knife to a young child. Naturally, he wanted to teach a lesson; so, he presented it to me, handle, first. It was the most magnificent rubber knife that I ever enjoyed.

This was back in the day when everyone gave directions by using the Phone Booth, next to the little Post Office, as a reference point. Men of that generation were always building something; seems like Dad and I were in town to help pour a sidewalk in front of that new Post Office. It was my lucky day to be the beneficiary of Mr. J. C. “Jim” Jensen.

His generosity is the beginning of this story about the Jensen family.

Jimmy was always the most interested in my life story when the chapters were about bowling and building. As an inventor, he was interested in my construction techniques. He would take the good ones of mine and offer the best of his ideas to make it even better. Tangible to those he helped were the Sand-Points driven to provide water.  isible to the community was the lighted Ice-Windmill for the entertainment pleasure of all.

Carl was comprised of the material of which heroes are made: Handsome devil on the outside; borderline saint on the inside. The one thing that always interrupted my play with the rubber knife was when Carl and his college buddies came to help my Dad on the ranch. After lunch, they would play ball with me. Literally; I was the ball! Tossed from one to the other: sometimes, it was a full-body catch; other times, only the last-second grab of an arm, or leg, kept me from hurtling to the earth, below.

Through high school, Carl supported every cause that our senior class dreamed up. My first sale of Cutco knives, as a freshman in college, was made in his kitchen. After working the last two years of my college crusade for a CPA firm, I was asked if I wanted to “help” with the Ranch books. That was in the olden-days, when accounting was done in paper Journals and Ledgers.

With hind-sight, I now realize the “help” requested was for my benefit, not Carl’s. He was quite capable of doing the Books and had done so, successfully, for many years. His keen eye observed a young accountant, who needed to build confidence. I was offered that opportunity.

Then, he blazed new trails in the use of Excel spreadsheets on the first Personal Computers. As I might be struggling to make something work in the Land of DOS, I would think of that hero of mine leading the way. Weakness gave way to strength, as a path through the technological wilderness was found.

Speaking of strength, what does it take to stand firm in the belief that life is all about the people? If there is an episode in the annuals of Lavina history to provide the answer, it is the one of a new Library and Gymnasium. Having served on the School Board for many years, Carl understood the importance of education and community. In small towns, the School is the anchor keeping ships of families safe.

In the mind of J. C. (Carl) Jensen, the cost of a little Brick and Mortar was a small price to pay for the eternal dividends from that one investment. He gave what he had, personally and financially, to bring a dream into reality.

Supportive of these men of the Jensen family are women of toughness and tenderness. Theirs is a story of nurturing everyone through the hardships of Ranch life. From the outside looking in, the full measure of their generosity is unknown to many. From within the familial core, these Jensen women offer goodness to all and they continue to make sacrifices that will engender the greatest rewards.

As this chapter of the story about the gifts of the Jensen Family concludes, the question remains: “Why was I handed a knife?” Just, maybe, “Jim” Jensen knew that cutting-edge generosity was the secret to slicing through the thickets of resistance on our individual journeys of Building Bright Financial Futures.

Craig, Scott and Clint continue to live the Family traditions. They begin each conversation by honoring the gifts of the Past, respecting the opportunities of the Present, and dreaming big, big, thoughts as they consider the abundance of, very, bright Futures!

www.kimfoard.com

Riding for the Brand

Four V

On the prairies and frontiers of a century ago, men rode for the brand and women admired their efforts. The strong, silent types of the silver screen and sagebrush oceans were benevolently loyal and sternly kind. They were the original men of Steel and Velvet.

It was a time of personal responsibility and unlimited opportunity. The men and women of that era were keenly aware that the world was what they made of it — if it didn’t fit, they made alterations.

Young men traveled west in pursuit of their dreams. They came with all of their belongings in a bed-roll tied behind their saddle and a rifle in the scabbard. No horse, no cows, no land — nothing permanent. All they possessed was a crystal clear vision in their mind of what they wanted their future to be.

The work on that future began by establishing relationships in the area of their new home. An option for many was to cowboy for the cattle empires and land barons. Cows and dirt are of limited value until properly managed. A cowboy was the catalyst to turn a horse remuda into a money making machine.

From the rope used to catch their first horse of the day, to the jingle of the spurs at their heels, those cowboys took care of their gear. Saddles were oiled, cinches were reinforced, and saddle bags were provisioned with the tools of their trade. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement — the Cowboys provided mind and muscle — the Barons provided everything else.

Understood by all — Loyalty and kindness was the rule of the range.

Kindness was evident around the chuck wagons. Cooks did their best to fuel the ambition of hard-working young men. Strangers were offered the generosity of a meal. Care of the animals was on the minds of everyone.

Loyalty was the difference between life and death. There was an understanding — you were either friend, or foe. There was never the Political Correctness of making excuses for poor choices. Cattle rustlers were hung and horse thieves were shot, by the men who knew the importance of riding for the brand.

Four V was given to me by my Dad about the time he was shortening stirrup leathers to fit the legs of a five year old. Wise man he was to know that the Brand fits me. Four is representative of the four winds and four corners of the world. As an Objective Thinker, I consider all four quadrants formed by the intersecting lines of Up, Down and Sideways. The V is what it takes to break through the drifts of prejudice formed by the inertia of many. As a Trailblazer, I thrive on going where others fear to tread.

Lazy J F BarLazy J F Bar was given to my son by my Dad about the time he was building his Grandson custom chaps, with fringes for flair. Although the initials J F were apropos for the man James Foard, “lazy” in the sense of idleness is a misnomer. It is reflective, though, of the gentle, subdued, behavior of a big, big, man. He was always quick to bend a knee in service and subordinate his desires in the best interest of others. His grandson continues that tradition. Both men apply the Bar as an underscore to their every effort.

One brand composed of straight lines and interconnected — another, with the curvature of style and distinction of application. They carry an unspoken appreciation for the past, discipline of the present, and hopes for the future. For the efforts they represent, each Brand carries a legacy of family and tradition.

Whether applied with a hot iron, chiseled into stone, or tickled from the keyboard into a digital universe, our individual Brands are worthy of honor and respect. Similar to a flag over a sovereign county, they are a symbol for: Who we are, the principles for which we stand — and, the sacrifices we are able and willing to make.

Let us always be kind and loyal, as we ride for the brand.

Building Bright Financial Futureswww.kimfoard.com

White Lines & PAWS

Dog Cat and White“Just keep your eyes on the white line, until you drive back into blue sky and sunshine.”

In some parts of the country, people drive for days to get out of the city. In Montana, we drive for hours to find one. Unless we’re driving at least 300 miles to do something, it’s probably just not that important!

It was Thanksgiving Day and Family was gathered 350 miles away. My first clue to a little excitement for that morning was at 3:30 AM, as I read the online Severe Weather Alert for blowing and drifting snow in an area known for high winds. The image that came to mind was of the log chain—that the community uses for a wind sock—popping links into snow drifts.

The reality was much different from the imagination. Before I even made it to the area of predicted severe weather, there was no hope in seeing anything on the side of the road. The road had disappeared into a white nothingness.

Blowing and drifting snow?! Who knew, or cared. The world had gone, white!

Visibility was zero. Now, wait. There was visibility. All white! White snow; white air; white road; and a few splotches of white lines were visible. We take them for granted most days: those solid white lines down the edge of a highway. That morning, they were the difference between moving forward and hibernation. A simple stripe of paint offered hope of progress.

It only took another 100 miles and 4 hours, until I drove into blue sky and sunshine.

Eventually, I drove right into the ranch yard and open arms of Family. A special Thanksgiving Day it was. In addition to the traditional fare of food and drink, this day included an opportunity to Meet the Parents. My daughter and her sweetie bravely hosted an event of Thanksgiving for their parents, who had yet to meet.

The meeting, and visiting, was made easier by George and Indie. You see, George is a big, old, grey cat; Indie is a small, young, red-heeler dog. Hence the expression, “Getting along like cats and dogs.” Oh, they get along just fine. Deep down, I do believe there is affection between the two. It’s the expression of the emotion that is comical.

Much more than the yelps and growls, it’s the PAWS which offer the love pats!

While we can learn much from two-legged folk, the lessons tutored by George and Indie made sense of my earlier morning experience of White.

Planning
Action
Will
Stories

Planning ~ You can see it in their eyes, as they think of the next episode of feline and canine adventure.

Action ~ They, literally, spring into it. Any doubts or reservations are pushed aside and they launch full-bore into the episode at hand.

Will ~ Fun will be obtained, by any means necessary to that end. Any resistance to great sport is overcome by sheer willpower.

Stories ~ We will remember, forever, the Day because it is wrapped in the ribbons and bows of the narrative.

My morning of Montana adventure contained all of the elements of PAWS. From the bag of winter survival gear to the full tank of fuel, planning and preparedness were the order of the day. Sitting beside the road in hopes of a kinder and gentler Mother Nature was forgone in exchange for moving forward, one mile at a time. Will-Power was my co-pilot, although, He was white-knuckled and wide-eyed, at times. Then, there are the tall tales—stories to tell the grandkids!

When given the opportunity of the impossible, let’s focus on the solutions available within our PAWS. By putting our hands to the task of finding joy by doing, and our feet to the path leading us to the discovery of an adventure, we find a priceless treasure that is ours, forever.

www.kimfoard.com

Real Deal

TomorrowMuch more than an audition for opening night of the playbill, Life, this is the Real Deal.

So real, in fact, I want to share insight from my children. To be precise, they are young adults, who are taking Relationship Strategies to increasingly higher levels for the benefit of all.

They are priceless gifts. Yet, at times, they will also purchase tangible expressions of reminders for me. This last Father’s Day, my son presented “Easy 88“, a bronze of a cowboy making a great ride on a bull. A few days ago, a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived from my daughter in acknowledgment of birthday “Fifty-Five“.

Within the last couple of years, she has also given me Words, inspiring words:

Family ~ Forever, For Always and No Matter What

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes to us at midnight all clean and perfect and puts itself in our hands. And hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.

In regards to Lessons Learned from yesterday, the most important one can be expressed by a single word:

Forgiveness ~ Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

The purest definition of a “Rut”: a grave, with the ends kicked out.

When we replay the past in our minds, over and over, a rut forms: a pattern of thinking. Really, those familiar grooves are the equivalent of a broken record: ’round and ’round the same track, while expecting new music. Does insanity come to mind?!

A common theme in my Family is music; always has been, always will be.

It is the best way to convey messages for us to remember.

Better Get To Livin’

Song Information
By: Dolly Parton & Kent Wells
Original Appearance: Backwoods Barbie

People always comin’ up to me and askin’
“Dolly, what’s your secret?
With all you do, your attitude
Just seems to be so good
How do you keep it?”
Well I’m not the Dalai Lama, but I’ll try
To offer up a few words of advice

Chorus:

You better get to livin’, givin’
Don’t forget to throw in a little forgivin’
And lovin’ on the way
You better get to knowin’, showin’
A little bit more concerned about where you’re goin’
Just a word unto the wise
You better get to livin’

A girlfriend came to my house
Started cryin’ on my shoulder Sunday evening
She was spinnin’ such a sad tale
I could not believe the yarn that she was weavin’
So negative the words she had to say
I said if I had a violin I’d play

I said you’d better get to livin’, givin’
Be willing and forgivin’
Cause all healing has to start with you
You better stop whining, pining
Get your dreams in line
And then just shine, design, refine
Until they come true
And you better get to livin’

Your life’s a wreck, your house is mess
And your wardrobe way outdated
All your plans just keep on falling through
Overweight and under paid, under appreciated
I’m no guru, but I’ll tell you
This I know is true

You better get to livin’, givin’
A little more thought about bein’
A little more willin’ to make a better way
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Keep your chin up
Just hang tough
And if it gets too rough
Fall on your knees and pray
And do that every day
Then you’ll get to livin’

The day we’re born we start to die
Don’t waste one minute of this life
Get to livin’
Share your dreams and share your laughter
Make some points for the great hereafter

Better start carin’
Better start sharin’
Better start tryin’
Better start smiling
And you better get to livin’

If we do it right, the livin’ that Dolly encourages is more like playing, than working. As with all things in Life, though, there is a fine line. On the one hand, we must acknowledge this is serious business, because at the end of our Play, all of the props go back in the box. On the other hand, we learn the most when we are playing and having fun.

And, that, my friend, is the point: We are to learn, grow, care, share, and love.

There’s a story about a southern farmer who goes out into his field early one morning to catch his mule for the day’s work ahead. To his dismay that mule was nowhere in sight. As the farmer headed back to the house, he passed an old, abandoned, hand-dug well. Sure enough. At the bottom of that well was Clyde.

Since the farmer was poor, he had no money to hire the equipment necessary to lift that much weight from that far down. He was rich in friends, though. So he asked his neighbors to bring their shovels. As sad as it was to lose Clyde, the right thing to do was to fill in that deathtrap.

From the mounds of dirt excavated when the well was originally dug, the farmers began the serious business of burying Clyde and making sure nothing else was ever harmed by the long ignored danger of a pit.

Making the best of a bad situation, they shoveled quickly. As they were finishing up their work and upon hearing something, they paused to look up. To their amazement, they watched Clyde jump out of the well.

You see, while they were shoveling dirt down the hole onto Clyde’s back, he simply shook it off and stepped up.

The gifts from my Son and Daughter are much more than plaques and bronzes, They are the evidence of their success in “shaking it off and stepping up”. Through no fault of theirs, they have experienced The Pit and the Bad Hands of cards dealt to them.

With courage, poise, determination, and grace they have chosen to shake it off and step up, time and time, again. The bull and bouquet speak volumes about their character.

From the mouths of babes and the examples of our young people, we learn to: Preserve a childlike sweetness and innocence, while growing out of our childishness.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

One thing I have always understood: Family and Work are the two legs carrying me across the stages of life.

I believe purpose in life is discovered by acknowledging a power greater than ourselves; accomplishment is possible by being a conduit for timeless and priceless gifts. The greatest gift is a chosen, purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others!

Let’s get to livin’!

www.kimfoard.com

Surf`s Up

Surf's UpBrace yourself; serious erosion is on the way!

Predictive models rely on probability. This is not a prediction; it’s not even rocket science. It is number relativity, with a 100% guarantee of occurrence because “SURF’S UP”: Silly Us Rabid Followers Swallowing Useless Platitudes.

Contrary to the storms of nature, we have the opportunity to push this tsunami back over the horizon; to turn the tide of human events. Since we get what we allow, it is reasonable to believe that we have the power to manage that which is within our individual control.

In fact we do it every single day: we live within the budget of a net paycheck, or net profit, from a business. Net is the secret, here; because what happens to the Gross is, well, simply, no other way to say it: ugly!

What we live on is a percentage of the whole earnings pie. If taxes take a 20% slice of the pie, we live on the remaining 80%; if taxes take a 40% chunk, then, yes, we can visually see the gaping “hole in the whole” and the, smaller, 60% share for us. What if, though, we need the 80% to feed our families?

Let’s pretend that we need $40,000 after taxes. By now, your mind is running wild with the calculation of: how big is the total pie, right?! Lucky for us, I was pretty good at 4th grade math. $40,000 divided by .80 equals $50,000; taxes are .20, or $10,000; and, we are left with $40,000. Ah, the family eats well.

Pretending further that prices never increase and our family is happy with $40,000; yet, considering the wall of taxes headed straight for us, something and somebody has to give. How much will the “gift” be? Just a little more division and we can multiple our knowledge, and that, my friends, will empower us to calm the winds of catastrophe. $40,000 divided by .60 equals $66,666; taxes are .40, or $26,666; and, we are left with $40,000, for our family.

In the mail yesterday, I received notice that my Health Insurance premium was going from $300 per month, up, to $400. Every other day for the last few months, I have been notified of other price increases on a variety of goods and services. If the question is: Why? The answer is: Families need $40,000.

Folks; Pogo was right, “I have seen the enemy and he is us.” It is true: We get the government we deserve. After all, isn’t the founding concept of our government: Of the people, By the people, and For the people? Yes; that is a question mark. Do we believe it? More importantly, are we able and willing to accept the mantle of leadership and take individual responsibility for our families?!

A simple, “YES”, in word and deed, is all that is required to make a difference in the world, today. We can turn the tide by declaring, “GIG’S UP”: Get Ideas Growing Splendidly Using Passion.

www.kimfoard.com

Price We Pay

The Magic FormulaBy eliminating variables, we arrive at one thing certain.

This is a story of three entrepreneurs: Eric the electrician, George the geek, and Lorna the landlord. The mystery for us to solve: Although unrelated by blood and marriage, how can they all have the same big sister, Iris, who requires their support?

Lucky for us; we have The Magic Formula as a guide to the answer. It is available by clicking the image above, or this Link. Much more than a guide, the Magic flows from an awareness of our resource choices: Time and Money.

Eric is an industrious fellow, who has a passion for service. He has completed years of formal training; has worked his way through the ranks of Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Electrician; and, now wants to live the dream of being his own Boss. Captain of his own ship, Master of his own destiny, a Servant of the people: taking care of his very own Customers.

Since Eric has all of the tools and seed money necessary for starting his Company, there is no need for a Banker, as a partner. Based on the household budget, he knows that his family needs $40,000 per year, after taxes.

As a self-employed individual, he will pay both halves (Employer plus Employee) of Social Security and Medicare taxes, for a combined rate of 15.3% on all net profit of his business. Much trickier are Federal and State income taxes, which are calculated on a progressive scale. At the lower brackets of income and with benefit of tax credits under current law, income taxes are of minimal concern. He anticipates an effective total tax rate of 20%.

In business, Overhead is a gracious way of saying: There is a price for Eric’s dream. Technically, Overhead is the delivery system of value from provider to consumer. For the joy of having that magnetic sign on the side of his truck and walking into his shop each morning to switch on the lights, at a minimum, Eric will pay $60,000 each year.

Now we’re ready to do 4th Grade math. We will simply Add, Subtract, Multiply and Divide.

Because taxes take 20% of Eric’s total Net Profit “pie”, his after tax $40,000 must be 80% of that same pie. Thus, we Divide $40,000 by .80 to know that Eric needs $50,000 of Net Income for the year. To prove that this target is accurate, we double-check the numbers: First, we Multiply $50,000 by .20 to find that, indeed, Taxes are $10,000; then, we Subtract $10,000 from $50,000 to breathe a sigh of relief in knowing Eric has $40,000 for his family.

Before Eric even gets to Net Profit, he must first make Sales to Customers of $60,000 each year, just to cover his Overhead and “keep his lights on”. Therefore, we Add the amount of Net Income ($50,000) to Overhead ($60,000); Eric knows exactly his sales target for the year, which is also a representative value of his time to provide quality services: $110,000.

Remember that needy sister, Iris? Your suspicion is right. Her nickname is IRS, the Internal Revenue Service; the one in need of that $10,000, above!

Now, the fun really begins, because we are to the point of this story: Who pays taxes? Is it, really, Companies and Businesses, as the Governor of the State of Montana believes? What happens when Big Sister decides she “needs” twice the amount of support and will use new tactics to take it?

Let’s answer these questions by reviewing the components of The Magic Formula. Does Eric need $40,000 for his family? Yes. Is the effective tax rate under current law approximately 20% for those in Eric’s income bracket? Yes. Does every business have expenses of Overhead in delivering value to the marketplace? Yes. Since these are all accurate variables, we find ourselves with the ultimate question: From where does the money come? Answer: Customers.

Who are customers? That would be: You and Me.

We pay Eric for the value he provides to us: the value of understanding the dynamics of electricity and how to bring it into our homes for the benefit of our families. He, in turn, shares portions of this Price with Vendors, Government and his Family.

At this point in our story, some may ask the question: “Why doesn’t Eric just keep on working for his current Employer?” For those individuals who are unemployed, the answer is obvious. For the ones still employed, the answer is two-part:

1.) Eric has discovered a better way to light up the lives of Customers, which his current employer is unwilling to accept.

2.) Because of the Universal Financial Principle above, Eric’s base compensation from any company is limited to, approximately, one-third of what he produces for an employer; Taxes and Overhead take the rest.

Prices are not arbitrarily set by businesses. Every business wants to be competitive in the marketplace and they know Price is one measurement of Value, subject to the perception and judgment of Customers.

Now, what happens when big sister, Iris, wants more? Not just a little more, a lot more!  In fact, she wants to double her consumption. Let’s do the math.

Eric still needs $40,000 for his Family and he still has Overhead to pay. So, by using the structure of The Magic Formula, we can solve for the amount of Taxes and the new Price his customers will pay. $40,000 divided by .60 is $66,666 (Net Income) multiplied by .40 is $26,666 (Taxes), which leaves $40,000 for Eric and his family. If all of Eric’s business expenses (Overhead) remain at the $60,000 amount, his Customers will need to pay $126,666 for the value of his services.

From $110,000 to $126,666, we (Customers) pay $16,666, more!

Remember the rest of our cast of characters: George and Lorna? George provides computer services to Eric; and, Lorna provides the building space for his shop. What do you think George and Lorna will be doing to the price of the value they offer to the marketplace?

If they want to stay in business, they will be doing what Eric was forced to do: raise their prices, too. George and Lorna are part of the $60,000 in Overhead that Eric needs to pay each year. When that $60,000 amount increases, who pays? Yes, once again, the answer is: We the People!

This is for certain: We pay a price for everything.

www.kimfoard.com